What Michael Keaton’s Return As Batman Could Mean for the DCEU and the Snyder Cut
In what is probably the biggest development for the DC Extended Universe (also known as DC Comics Movieverse), Michael Keaton is in talks to return the role he was best known for: Batman. It's a surprising development for a universe of films that already has two Batmans. But the way Warner Bros brings him back could offer the studio an opportunity to restart this franchise, which has had no narrative center since the Justice League in 2017.
Keaton will return as Bruce Wayne in the long late "The Flash" film, which makes a lot of sense. You may remember that Warner Bros announced at San Diego Comic-Con 2017 that the flash movie will be called “Flashpoint”. The planned film no longer has this title, but is based in part on the comic "Flashpoint".
In 2017, when there were rumors that the DC films would move away from Ben Affleck's version of the Caped Crusader, we wrote that a "Flashpoint" film that included time travel and alternative universes would allow them to do the character without having to start over in this whole film universe. And that's still true!
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But we obviously didn't think big enough at the time. If you bring Keaton back this way, Warner Bros could turn the frustrations over the state of the DCEU into a long-term victory. And they could even use this to include the Justice League snyder cut in the DCEU canon.
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How would that work? Let's talk about the "Flashpoint" comic for a second. In this story, Lightning himself, Barry Allen, tried to use time travel to save his mother - who died when Barry was young. Lightning can travel back in time thanks to its incredible speed and the “Speed Force” that gives Barry its powers.
But when Barry makes his journey into the past, he screwed it up. His actions change the past and create an alternative universe. It's a bit like when Biff went back from "Back to the Future" to 1955 and gave the sports almanac. And in this version of the world, Bruce Wayne is dead and the Batman is actually Thomas Wayne, Bruce's father.
From there, everything gets pretty complicated, but the Flash works with other heroes to try to fix the timeline, and the end result was a kind of restart of the DC Comics universe with what was called "New 52". You can read more about it here.
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This was not the first time that DC had dealt with the multiverse. In fact, the comic giant had been doing multiverse stuff for decades. DC's multiverse emerged from the need to address important narrative issues that the company's authors faced in the early 1960s.
The first was the big discrepancies in the history of characters like Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. The comics were created in 1938. 39 and 41 were printed throughout, but were often reinterpreted to reflect the ever-changing attitude towards comics. The most notable example was Batman, whose comic was originally influenced by noir, but was extremely belligerent in the late 50s.
The second problem was that several characters that also emerged during the first superhero comic boom of World War II were canceled after superhero comics largely lost popularity in the late 1940s, especially the original versions of The Flash and Green Lantern. In the late 50s, both were reinterpreted as completely new characters who knew and fought with Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman just like their predecessors. Even more confusing: In the case of the new Flash, he was inspired by his childhood hero, the original Flash, which was established as a fictional cartoon character in his world.
A 1961 issue of "The Flash" entitled "Flash of Two Worlds" addresses this problem. The new flash, Barry Allen, accidentally travels to the earth of another universe where it meets the original flash, Jay Garrick. Barry learns that in this world, which he calls "Earth 2", the incarnations of all DC characters from World War II actually lived. Earth 1 was now home to the latest versions of DC's characters.
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In the 1980s, however, the sheer number of changes that DC characters went through - see Batman 1962 vs. Batman 1979 - expanded the multiverse to such an extent that it was no longer easy to keep pace with various continuity growls. DC addresses this issue with a massive crossover event, the 1985 Infinite Earth Crisis, where everything merged into a single universe and started all over again. In particular, "Superman" was restarted with a new story of origin and his comic was reset to issue 1.
It is not hard to imagine that DC would now try to do something similar with his film universe. While a multiverse in a huge superhero franchise may have seemed crazy a few years ago, Marvel introduced the multiverse concept in his films with "Avengers: Endgame". Considering how much money this film has made, it looks like the audience can handle it. And for DC there are endless possibilities with the multiverse.
For one thing, Warner Bros has an opportunity to keep all the parts of the DCEU that people like (like "Wonder Woman" and "Aquaman") while restarting the parts that are not planned. Basically, they can restart things without breaking the franchise and starting over. In addition, all DC films that are not part of the DCEU can be added retrospectively. Think about it: If Keaton's Batman is in the DCEU, it would in turn bring both of Tim Burton's "Batman" films to the DCEU.
And the Snyder Cut! These multiverse gadgets could make both Joss Whedons and Zack Snyder's versions of "Justice League" part of the DCEU canon. Without the multiverse, this would absolutely not be possible, since the two versions contradict each other.
They could also bring Joaquin Phoenix 'Joker to the DCEU, Ryan Reynolds' Green Lantern or Halle Berry's Catwoman. Or, while we're dreaming, Christian Bales Batman.
And it is quite possible that the DCEU will start to overlap with the television programs from DC. There was actually a bit of that with the CW version of "Crisis on Infinite Earths", which not only briefly matched Ezra Miller's Flash with Grant Gustin's version of the character, but also brought Brandon Routh's version of Superman back.
And yes, the logistics of all of this could be complicated. So we don't really want to go into more detail about how they could bring the "Justice League" Snyder Cut into the canon. We could spend the whole day formulating theories, but we would probably be wrong about how it will work. This is one of the things we just have to watch over time to see how it develops.
Regardless, the possibilities are undeniably endless, but we should be aware that we still don't know how far Warner Bros and DC will go. At the moment we only know that Michael Keaton's Batman from his independent films will pass into this common universe. It remains to be seen what they will do afterwards.
Maybe they continue to explore the multiverse and maybe it's a one-time thing. At the moment, it could very well be that nobody knows exactly what will come next.
Read the original story What Michael Keaton's return as Batman could mean for the DCEU and Snyder Cut At TheWrap
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